(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
- "Se7en" redirects here. For the singer, see SE7EN (singer).
Se7en (Seven) is a 1995 film about two detectives investigating a well-read serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as inspiration for a series of ritualistic murders. The film was written by Andrew Kevin Walker and directed by David Fincher. It starred Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as the detectives; with supporting roles played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey.
Walker received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Film editor Richard Francis-Bruce was nominated for an Academy Award for Film Editing in a film that makes use of a visual technique known as bleach bypass. The film was given an MTV Movie Award as best movie.
- "Seven deadly sins. Seven ways to die."
- "Let he who is without sin try to survive."
- "Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light."
The story unfolds in an unspecified but very large American city The city is rainy, and from comments made by Det. Somerset (played by Freeman), it's an almost dystopian setting, exhibiting all the worst aspects of urban life — crime, congestion, inner-city decay, with rampant depravity, avarice, and generally inimical conduct. Somerset (named for W. Somerset Maugham) is preparing to retire from police work after many gruelling and unpleasant years of dealing with the destitution and apathy bred within the grimy and forlorn city. In his last week, he is partnered with Det. Mills (Pitt), a naive and much younger rookie detective who just relocated to the department from somewhere outside the metropolis. The two men are at odds with each other almost immediately, as Mills is brash, temperamental, and lets his emotions get the better of him, in stark contrast to Somerset's analytical, introspective personality and methods.
Their first assignment together is at a crime scene in a filthy, cockroach-infested apartment in which an obese man lies dead, face-down in a bowl of spaghetti. He is bound with wires at his ankles and wrists, and there is a bucket of vomit under the table. The pathologist later verifies that the man was force-fed an enormous quantity of food, then kicked in the side. This caused his stomach to split and led to an internal hemorrhage that brought on his demise. The first bit of evidence that has Somerset believing they are after a killer with a plan is Somerset's discovery of two shopping receipts, indicating that the killer had risked leaving and returning to the apartment to get more food for the forced feeding.
When Somerset challenges Mills' readiness to take on the gluttony case, Mills takes on a new case the very next day, the gruesome murder of a prominent lawyer named Eli Gould. Gould was made to excise a pound of his own flesh, a reference to a demand made by Shylock from The Merchant of Venice; written on the floor in Gould's blood is the word GREED.
Meanwhile, Somerset, puzzled by narrow strips found in the first victim's stomach, returns to the apartment where the first murder was committed. The strips turn out to be a clue to markings on the kitchen floor indicating the refrigerator had been moved. Somerset moves it away from the wall and finds GLUTTONY written in grease. He begins to suspect that the two crimes are related, and tells Mills and the captain that there will be five more murders, each patterned after the remaining five of the seven deadly sins.
Mills' wife Tracy (played by Paltrow) invites Somerset to their new house for a late supper. That same evening, Somerset and Mills, once again working together, find a set of fingerprints and handprints at the site of Gould's murder which spell out "HELP ME"; the prints, hidden behind a painting which Mrs. Gould notices has been turned upside-down, belong to a known child molestor and drug dealer, but as the task force prepare to storm the offender's residence the following morning, Somerset is already sure that he is not the person they are looking for.
Somerset is proved right when the man is found tied to his bed, alive but suffering from severe mental and physical deterioration after spending a year completely immobile. Somerset once again voices concern that they stand little chance of catching the cold-blooded, calculating killer, who over the course of a year photographed the child molester-turned-victim's face dozens of times as he deteriorated. The killer also manipulated the evidence the detectives collected to ensure that they discovered his victim exactly one year after he rendered him immobile. The perpetrator severed his hand, which explains how the victim's prints turned up at the scene of the lawyer's murder. The word SLOTH is written in excrement on the wall above the victim's bed, the third murder in three days.
Tracy privately reveals to Somerset that she is pregnant but is not sure bringing a child into this world (and in particular, this city) would be wise. Somerset tells her he was faced with the same decision earlier in his life and convinced his girlfriend to have an abortion. Somerset says that although he is intellectually certain that he made the right decision (to not bring a child into such a gloomy world), he nonetheless has deeply regretted that decision ever since. He advises Tracy to never let Mills know she was pregnant, if she chooses not to have the baby.
With the investigation going nowhere, Somerset pays a contact in the FBI to print out the list of names on the government database of "flagged" library books, books that Somerset's research indicates the killer would be interested in. Through the list, they come up with a list of possible matches, one of which is named Jonathan Doe (a variant of the John Doe name used for anonymous crime victims). When they visit Doe's apartment, Does arrives, and from down a hall sees them at his door. Doe opens fire at them, then leads them on a lengthy chase through a labyrinth of tenement buildings. During the pursuit, Mills is injured by Doe who then holds a gun to Mills' head but spares his life.
Once the detectives gain access into Doe's apartment, they discover a darkroom (with photographs that prove that Mills had earlier confronted the killer), and hundreds of meticulously-kept logs of the killer's thoughts. However, there are no fingerprints, anywhere. Amongst the heap that suggests Jonathan Doe is an obsessive maniac, evidence of possible future victims arises. One of them is a photograph of what seems to be a prostitute.
One of the few concrete pieces of evidence is a receipt from a custom leather fetish shop. The detectives visit the shop; the shopkeeper gives them a polaroid he took of the custom-made item; the audience is spared the sight of the item, though comments from Somerset are telling enough.
The detectives are soon paged to the site of the next victim (the prostitute). LUST is written on the door of a room; inside the room is the body of the prostitute; the police are there, with a guy seemingly in shock, screaming to "get this thing off of me." Back at the station, an interview with the screaming guy confirms a scenario that the detectives probably pictured as soon as they saw the shopkeeper's polaroid: Doe had forced a man at gunpoint to don the custom-made item (a strap-on dildo with a long serrated blade attached to the shaft) and copulate with the bound prostitute.
Mills and Somerset later argue in a bar about the value of what they are doing, and Somerset is not convinced that staying on as a policeman would make any difference.
A fifth victim turns up the next day after a phone call from John Doe to his own apartment. A model is found dead in her own bedroom. Doe cut off her nose — "to spite her face" — then offered her a choice of living with her disfigurement or suicide, by gluing a bottle of pills to one hand (from which she could overdose) and a phone to the other (to call for help). By choosing suicide, she accedes to the sin of PRIDE, which is written in blood on the headboard of the bed.
Mills and Somerset return to police headquarters. A man with hands and shirt covered in blood, soon confirmed to be Doe (Kevin Spacey), chillingly confronts the detectives. During his processing and interrogation, it is discovered that Doe regularly cuts the skin off his fingertips, which explains the lack of fingerprints in his apartment.
Through his lawyer, Doe offers to confess to all of the murders, but only if he is allowed to escort the detectives to a scene where Doe says two more bodies will be found. Refusal of this offer, Doe's attorney threatens, will lead to a plea of insanity. Mills decides he wants the full confession.
On the way to the location of the final two bodies, Doe extensively alludes to the greatness of his achievement, and seems particularly preoccupied with Detective Mills. He offers reasons as to why he has committed the heinous murders, and, in one of the film's most startling moments, explains that in order to arouse a heightened consciousness in the desensitised, amoral people of today, one cannot expect to "tap them on the shoulder and have them listen", but rather, "hit them with a sledge hammer".
Envy and wrath
When they arrive at Doe's prearranged location, dry and desert-like with rows of electrical transmission towers, a delivery van soon arrives. Somerset stops the van several yards from their location and confronts the driver, who says that he was to deliver a box to their location. The box is addressed to Mills, but Somerset decides to open it. He recoils from the box in horror, and yells to Mills, who is struggling to ignore Doe's comments, to put his gun down and to not come near the box. As Somerset runs back to Mills and Doe, Doe reveals to Mills that he had visited Tracy after Mills left for work and tried to "play husband". The independently wealthy Doe envied the fruits of a common man's life and is thus guilty of ENVY. Doe then discloses that he killed Tracy and her unborn baby, and it becomes apparent that Mills was unaware of her pregnancy and that the box contains Tracy's severed head. Enraged, horrified, and grief-stricken, Mills dramatically contemplates killing Doe. Somerset tries to stop him, arguing that Doe's revelations only stand if he is killed for his sin of Envy and if Mills is the one who kills him and so becomes the embodiment of WRATH. "If you kill him, he will win," says Somerset. The distraught and emotional Mills is overcome by the tragedy of the murder of his wife and their unborn baby. He shoots Doe in the head and then empties his gun into Doe's body.
In the final scene, Mills is taken into custody. Somerset is assured by his captain that Mills will be taken care of. Somerset offers that if Mills needs anything, Somerset will want to help. However, given Somerset's impending retirement, the captain is unsure how he would contact Somerset if need be. The captain asks, "Where are you going to be?" Somerset wearily replies, "I'll be around." He has resigned himself to the fact that after what has happened, he will not go through with his long-awaited retirement plans. Perhaps he never would have, anyway.
The film concludes when, in voice-over, with sirens wailing in the background, Somerset explains why: "Ernest Hemingway once wrote: 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part."
An early version of the script features a completely different ending in which Doe's visiting and killing Tracy does not occur. Instead there is a final confrontation between Doe and Mills and Somerset. Doe kills Mills, and in his rage, Somerset acts out the sin of wrath, taking brutal vengeance upon Doe. Somerset shoots Doe not to kill, but rather to inflict maximum pain, shooting Doe in each arm and each leg. As Doe writhes in agony, Somerset sets Doe ablaze and lets him burn alive.
In this version of the script, the film ends again suggesting that Somerset will not retire after all. Instead, the now-widowed Tracy moves away to have her baby and try to find the kind of life to which Somerset had envisioned himself retiring. He symbolically passes what had been his vision of his future on to her.
The special edition of the DVD makes clear that other endings were considered also. An unfilmed alternate ending features Somerset shooting John Doe in an act of self-sacrifice to save Mills. When Mills yells "What are you doing?" Somerset says, "I'm retiring."
On the DVD commentary, Fincher states that once the desired resolution to the Doe/Mills/Somerset confrontation was settled upon, the film was then to end immediately after Mills shot Doe — the final camera shots being the scene of the crime seen from the helicopter. However, in the end the additional scene was added with Mills being driven off and Somerset indicating that he would not retire after all.
- R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe was originally offered the role of John Doe.
- The scenes in the apartment complex where Mills and Somerset first encounter Jonathan Doe were shot on location at the run-down yet historically significant Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. During its heyday, the hotel was a favorite haunt of Charlie Chaplin among other Hollywood notables.
- The injury suffered by Mills in the pursuit of Doe was added to the story after Brad Pitt injured himself attempting a stunt in the scene.
- In a deleted scene from the PRIDE sequence, Doe wrote in blood "I did not kill her. I gave her a choice" on a wall leading to the bedroom where the victim was found.
- One version of the script contained a few scenes following the final confrontation between the detectives and John Doe. In one Somerset is in the hospital recovering from being shot by Mills and the captain delivers him a letter from Mills which reads, "You were right. You were right about everything."
- Shortly before shooting John Doe, a flash of Mills' wife's face appears on screen. David Fincher uses this technique in Fight Club as well.
- Somerset's badge number is 714, the same badge number as Sgt. Joe Friday in the television series Dragnet.
- Other uses of the number 7 abound in the film including all of the buildings in the opening scene starting with 7, and the delivery in the movie's climax being scheduled for 7:07 a.m.
- Though Kevin Spacey did a large amount of research for his role in the film, he said Anthony Hopkins' performance in The Silence of the Lambs was also something he based his own acting on.
- During the lunch scene with Somerset and Tracy her quote "I hate this city" is used by Every Time I Die in their song "Emergency Broadcast Syndrome".
- The band Blood Has Been Shed references Se7en with its song entitled "Call Waiting (John Doe has the Upper Hand)", which is said by Somerset after he opens the package meant for Mills.
The opening credit music is a remix of "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails, available as "Closer (precursor)" on the "Closer to God" single. The song during the end credits is David Bowie's song "The Hearts Filthy Lesson". Other original music is by Howard Shore.
- In the Beginning - The Statler Brothers
- Guilty - Gravity Kills
- Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye
- Speaking of Happiness - Gloria Lynne
- Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068 "Air" - written by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by Stuttgarter Kammerorchester/Karl Münchinger
- Love Plus One - Haircut 100
- I Cover the Waterfront - Billie Holiday
- Now's the Time - Charlie Parker
- Straight, No Chaser - Thelonious Monk
- Portrait of John Doe - Howard Shore
- Suite from Seven - Howard Shore
has a collection of quotations related to:
- ^ a b Se7en at The Internet Movie Database
- ^ The only explicit indentification of the film's setting are the words ("Bardach County Jail") stenciled on the back of the killer's orange jumpsuit after he is booked for the first five murders he commits.